Saturday, September 16, 2017

Year 1: Term 1: Exam Week

This is the first time I've done an "Exam Week" with Gemma, and I really didn't enjoy it. 

It didn't reveal anything that I didn't already know. Because Gemma does all of her school-work with me, I know what she knows. I also know that her narrations need a lot of improvement, and I'm confident that as she gets older, and as she reads and talks about what she's read more, her narrations will improve.

I suppose that if I needed to prove to someone else - like a charter school - that my child was learning, these exams could help do that. But we're not enrolled in a charter. I don't have to keep a portfolio. I blog about our homeschooling experiences for me (because I'm so busy with work that I wouldn't remember what Gemma and I did last week without some sort of record to jog my memory), and to keep in touch with family and friends, and because I've discovered so many great books, field trips, games, etc. by reading about other homeschoolers' experiences.

We tried two different things. We tried Gemma answering her exam questions using speech to text in google docs, which took longer than it needed because Gemma kept rereading what she had said, and which produced some errors that I will, someday, find humorous. (Did you know there were "bondsmen and zombies" in The Good Samaritan?) We also tried me typing her narrations, which was fine, but tedious for me, and produced shorter narrations, I think because she didn't get the same satisfaction from just talking as she did from seeing her words appear on the screen with speech to text. We didn't try videotaping her exams.

I want to see some value in Exam Week, if not for me, than maybe for her. What does a child gain by showing, in this way, what they've retained from a term? Or is it that they develop an understanding that they are expected to retain these ideas?

I do think that I need a Reflection Week, or a Grace Week, to evaluate what went well over the term, what worked, what was easy, and what needs to be prioritized so it doesn't get left out.

For example, piano was easy. Gemma played more than her required 15 minutes per day. Duolingo was easy, and while Gemma now knows some words in Spanish and French, and is interested in learning more, I am wondering if I should add something here, like scheduling Telefrancais and Salsa episodes, or setting a goal of a certain number of new (themed) words per month.

On the other hand, maybe it would be nice to look back, years from now, at Gemma's exam answers. But I don't think we need two questions in each subject for that purpose. Maybe next time, we will have an Exam Day, with only two questions total, followed by a decadent dessert, like fancy chocolate cupcakes from Sweet Lady Jane's. Yes, that changes everything.

Year 1: Week 12

Gemma lost her third tooth during...WEEK 12!
Coincidentally, our tale for this week is TWELFTH Night. :)

Our free reads: Bunnicula, Galileo - The Starry Messenger, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader

(We read the Galileo book to complement the chapter in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography about Galileo. We also watched a DVD about Galileo from our public library - "The Animated Hero Classics: Galileo" by NEST; I highly recommend it.)

In addition to the free reads I read aloud to Gemma, she reads independently all the time. She has been enjoying the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, the Boxcar Children series, and the Encyclopedia Brown series, and Classic Starts Sherlock Holmes.

In geography, we read "The Gulf Stream" and "The Polar Sea."

Gemma chose The Boy and the Well for her fable.

We revisited our Degas painting from last week, and our Beethoven piece from last week.

For Natural History, we learned about the oyster crab. Did you know the female oyster crab lives inside an oyster shell? I had no idea. We also read "How a Seed Grows" from Plant Life in Field and Garden, and watched a time lapse video of a seed sprouting. (A long while ago, we sprouted bean seeds in a clear plastic cup with wet cotton.)

There was also a day at Temescal Canyon, an afternoon at a park, and an afternoon at the beach.

One of our co-ops held a bake sale and lemonade stand to raise money for hurricane relief. We raised over $800!

Swim lessons started up again.

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Gemma got her gi.

And, of course, there was dance class.

For math, we did Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 14.

We sang, recited, read more Stevenson poetry, learned to write s, t, u, and v in cursive, rang bells at church, did Duolingo, etc.

Our Bible story was Elijah and the Ravens.

In piano, Gemma continued to work on Caravan, and also learned to play the hymn "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" from her Sacred Solos book.

Next up, Exam Week...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Year 1: Week 11

For composer study this week, we listened to Beethoven's Razumovsky String Quartet Opus 59, no. 1.

Thanks to Children of the Open Air, for sol-fa, we learned Lucy Locket Lost Her Pocket.

The picture we looked at for artist study was Degas' "A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers."

In math, Gemma completed Life of Fred: Kidneys chapters 12 & 13, in which the reader finally learns why the book is titled Kidneys.

I especially liked this section of LOF: Kidneys (page 92), "But there is one leisure time activity that is more important than any of these, even more important than eating pizza! ... [L]eisure time gives you time to think, to ask the bigger questions in life. Many of the most important advances in the history of the world happened when people spent their leisure time thinking about *What makes plants grow? *How do stars shine? *Why is it cold in winter? *When will people stop doing bad things?"

At church, Gemma got the opportunity to practice playing handbells. :)
She also started Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Their first lesson was how to escape if a person grabs them by the wrist with one hand, or with two hands.
In Natural History, we read more about crabs, and learned that some crabs can climb trees! (We, of course, had to look this up on YouTube.) We also read (in Plant Life in Field and Garden) "The Story of a Turnip," which includes the parts of a flower, as well as how the different parts of a turnip feed different animals.

I checked out some of Freddie Levin's 1-2-3 Draw Books from the library. Gemma liked the Mythical Creatures one best. She drew the fairy, the unicorn, and the pixie.
At Classical Conversations, Gemma's class worked on symmetry, and drawing a bald eagle with Mona Brooks' "basic shapes."
Gemma's bald eagle...
As if the week weren't full enough, there was a bike ride with Daddy to the beach, dance class...
...and more...

Recitations: OT, Psalm 150, NT, hymn

Geography: The World By the Fireside (Iceland), and CM's Elementary Geography (ch. 6 "Our World and Other Worlds"). CM's book was written before Pluto was a planet, and then was not a planet, so it says there are eight planets, which is current. This chapter also discusses Galileo, and the way the planets reflect the sun's light. I didn't realize, but I now do, after looking it up, the name for this is planetshine (and earthshine).

Cursive: Gemma worked on signing her name, and writing ps and qs...and rs.

Tales: How the Camel Got His Hump (Kipling)

Fable: The Two Frogs

History: The Fall of Tyre & The Rise of Carthage. Added "574 BC Tyre (now Lebanon) fell to King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon" to timeline book.

Piano: continued working on "Caravan," reviewed other songs

Foreign Languages: songs & Duolingo

Bible: David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

We also read some Stevenson poetry.

For handicrafts, I found a second My Studio Girl sewing kit at the 99 Cent Store ($3.99 - a doll kit). It was the last one! I got it at the end of the week, so Gemma has only been able to sew and stuff one arm, so far.

Free reads: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Bronze Ring (from The Blue Fairy Book), and Phoebe the Spy (Judith Berry Griffin).

Week 12 - the final week of our first term - here we come!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Year 1: Week 10

This week's handicraft was a cupcake sewing kit from the 99 Cent Store. It cost $1.99, and included everything (except scissors) needed to make the cupcake - two plastic needles (one for each color of thread!), more than enough thread, all of the beads with holes actually big enough for the plastic needle to fit through! We've used lots of kits and they usually omit materials. Now I'm curious about what other sewing kits "My Studio Girl" manufactures. 

The cupcake was a three-day project. First, Gemma sewed on the pearls and sewed the red and green pieces to the purple piece. A couple of days later, she attached the purple piece to the pink piece with a running stitch. The third day, she sewed the rest of the beads on and stuffed it.
It was great fine motor skills practice, as well as practice following directions. She also gained practice with failure recovery. One of the biggest lessons sewing can teach is that problems can be fixed. Seams can be ripped out and sewn again. Worst case scenario, a person can buy new fabric. With a little kit like this, the needle can go back up through the prepunched hole it came down; knots can be unknotted.

This week's...

Bible story: David the Shepherd Boy (from 1 Samuel, about Samuel annointing David)

Natural History: Plant Life in Field and Garden ch. 2 ("The Work Done By Leaves"), Gathered four, not six (as written), plants with different shaped leaves and noticed how they grow upon the stem, painted (with water brush) the four leaves, & The Burgess Seashore Book ch 10 "A Lobster and a Crab that Cannot Pinch"

Artist Study: Degas' "At the Races in the Countryside"

Composer Study: Beethoven's "Turkish March"

Piano: "Caravan"

History: ch 19 "The Dawn of History"

Geography: The World By the Fireside "The Water that Spouts and Boils" & "Mount Hecla" (both about Iceland). Gemma's narration involved physically reinacting the volcanic eruption.

Math: Life of Fred Kidneys ch 11
(Introducing exponents, 1 to any power is 1, 0 to any power is 0, a score is 20, etc.)

Cursive: m n o

Fairy Tale: The Frog Prince

Fable: The Angler and the Little Fish

Foreign Languages: Gemma is on a 27 day Duolingo streak. She decided to go back to the beginning and review earlier, easier, lessons, and I'm all for that.  She sang her foreign language songs, and watched one episode of Telefrancais.

Free Read: We're on the second to last chapter of Pinocchio, and we started Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I'm curious, which book do you enjoy more - Prince Caspian or Voyage of the Dawn Treader? My vote is Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

There were also some Stevenson poems, recitation, this term's hymn, the solar eclipse (which Gemma viewed using a pinhole camera box), her first week of Classical Conversations Cycle 3, and her first week of dance (Tap 1 and Ballet 1).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Year 1: Week 9

This "week" was really two weeks - the week before I started back to work, and my first week back.

I knew I was going to be too busy to think about anything other than work, so I'm glad I made the decision to start our school year early.

What I didn't realize was that Gemma's swim lessons were going to take up the greater part of my post-work/pre-bed time. 

It was well worth it, though. She is now able to swim the entire length of the pool without touching the floor. She isn't yet able to swim the distance without getting tired and needing to flip herself over on her back for a short rest a couple of times. Her coach said she only needs one more round of Fish (to build up her endurance) before she can move on to Barracuda.

Post-swim, with her completion certificate...
With a kickboard, Gemma was the fastest swimmer in her class. She won the kickboard race every class for a MONTH! That's her in the lead...
She recited her OT passage, NT passage, Psalm 150, and the two Stevenson poems. We also read several new Stevenson poems (she read a couple on her own). We sang our hymn, and our foreign language songs.

Her fairy tale was Cinderella; she read it on her own and narrated to me when I got home. Her narration was, "Cinderella planted a hazelnut tree, with just one twig! I never knew! And the tree threw down three splendid dresses, each more splendid. The third one was splend-est. And the stepsisters cut off part of their feet!"

This week's fable was "The Dog and the Shadow."

This week's Bible passage was The Call of Samuel. 

For history, we read Our Island Story (Albion and Brutus), A Child's History of Art: Architecture (Mud Pie Palaces and Temples), and On the Shores of the Great Sea (The Siege of Troy).

She did Duolingo Spanish and French, and practiced piano daily.

For handicrafts, we made an origami elephant. I helped with the trickier folds, but Gemma did most of the elephant. She did the inside reverse folds on the tips of the ears, the feet, and the tip of the trunk entirely by herself.
For natural history, we read The Burgess Seashore Book "Reddy Fox Meets Big Claw" (about lobsters), and started a new book (Plant Life in Field and Garden). The chapter we read was "A Shepherd's Purse." In it, the narrator instructs the reader to go out and pull up a weed, and observe the weed's roots and rootlets.
The chapter also mentioned manure, so Gemma learned a new word.😉

For geography, we read chapter 5 of CM's Elementary Geography ("The Star"), which is the complete version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jane Taylor; we also read The World By the Fireside "Ships Set Fast in the Ice" (about the Northwest Passage, with a mention of the Panama Canal), and "Floco and his Ravens" (a story about how Iceland was discovered).

To enhance our geography studies, we watched some videos from the "Countries Around the World" series (each 13 minutes) and the "Families of the World" series. Our history lessons have been focused on the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, so we checked out videos from the library about Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Greece. We also recently read about "Lapland," so we watched one on Finland.

We re-viewed Children of the Open Air's sol-fa 6A video (Bye Baby Bunting, with "la.") 

Gemma continued working on cursive...
For math, we did Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 10. Not-so-secret secret: I don't make Gemma do math daily. We do math formally once or twice a week. In the future, this will change. (It would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to learn, say, algebra completing only one or two lessons per week.) But can a child learn elementary math with only one or two formal math lessons per week? Yes. Another question I've gotten is, "Does Life of Fred provide enough practice?" People are used to math workbooks with 30 similar problems on one page. Life of Fred: Kidneys chapter 10 had only FOUR problems! But each "Your Turn to Play" is a multi-step problem. For example, number 4 was the equivalent of 15 problems!
For artist study, Gemma chose "Carriage at the Races," and for composer study, we listened to Beethoven's Turkish March (and just for fun and comparison - Mozart's Turkish March). Also, we listened daily to KUSC 91.5 - our classical music radio station - on the commute to and from swim.

Our current free read is Pinocchio. We're 2/3 through and we love it. In the car the other day, Gemma asked, "Mom, is it true that a person can die of sorrow?"

Pete also took Gemma to play with friends in the forest at Temescal Canyon, to the park for a Little Explorers lesson about space, and took her bodyboarding on his surfboard. That beach day was my third day of work. While my students were reviewing/learning procedures, getting to know each other, and taking diagnostic assessments, my daughter was "at school" surfing with Daddy.😆 I love it.

So, looking back over the past two weeks, we did quite a bit, and I survived the first week back at work.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Year 1: Week 8

(This "week" took 10 days.)

Gemma is officially a Fish!
She's been in the pool every weekday for the past two weeks, and she made her first dive!

Our natural history readings this week included The Burgess Seashore Book (Reddy Fox Meets Barker the Seal), and the last story in James Herriot's Treasury - Smudge, the Little Lost Lamb.

I don't like having multiple free reads going on at once, but we usually do. This week, while finishing Avi's Ereth's Birthday, we started Pinocchio. 

I like Ereth's Birthday, but there are things about it that I don't like. Ereth is a curmudgeon, so he grumbles and says stupid and idiot, words I don't want to be part of Gemma's 6 year vocabulary. Ereth is not supposed to be likable. He's prickly. He's a porcupine. What he has to do in the book makes him grow, makes the reader feel for him, that AND the fact that he's being stalked by a fisher cat. (I actually think that the chapters from stalker Marty the Fisher's point of view are more frightening for an adult than a child.)
We started Pinocchio because, when we were at the library, I saw a postcard for a production of Pinocchio at a nearby theatre, and thought it would be fun to go see.
And it was. I was really happy that the play, unlike the Disney movie, stayed close to the original story.

For handicrafts, Gemma made a clay man with two coils and a ball. She also made a cone hat (not pictured).
Gemma is working on learning cursive, one letter at a time.

For history, we read about the Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa and Jason and the Argonauts. We watched a couple of short videos about Jason and the Argonauts, and added the founding of Carthage and the Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa to our timeline book.

For composer study this week, while I was cleaning, Gemma watched a NEST movie about Beethoven. Near the end, she said, "Mom! The sound keeps going in and out!" I said, "Maybe something is wrong with the disc?" She said, "No, it's supposed to. When the sound goes out, we're hearing from Beethoven's perspective. How cool is that?" That my 6 year old can appreciate this feature of the movie? The coolest. :)

We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
A lorikeet landed on Gemma's head! I wasn't quick enough with my camera. At one point, I had 4 lorikeets perched on me.
We got to touch sharks, rays, and jellyfish. 
And we got to see alligators, penguins, and an octopus.
We also went to the tidepools at Leo Carrillo.
This week's Bible story: Baby Moses

This week's fairy tale: Our Lady's Little Glass

This week's fable: The Snakes and the Porcupine 

This week's piano song: Three Wise Monkeys

This week's geography lesson: Lapland/Finland

This week's math lesson: Life of Fred Kidneys chapter 9 (4-digit times 2 digit numbers, perimeter)

There was also French and Spanish (Gemma is on a 11-day Duolingo streak!),  a sol-fa lesson from Children of the Open Air (lesson 6A - not easy, we'll be reviewing that one), French song, Spanish song, hymn, recitation of Bible passages and poems, and Gemma watched a couple of episodes of Telefrancais.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Year 1: Week 7

(This "week" took 13 days.)

Our composer for this term is Beethoven, so we got $12 seats at the Hollywood Bowl to see Beethoven's 9th. Here is Gemma pretending to be Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor.
We rode the metro to the Bowl, which took about 2 hours. We did no "school" that day. I was thinking about how Gemma spent the day at the beach, playing in the surf with Daddy, while I went to the library to print out our tickets, and to the store to buy picnicky food, and about how when I, as a public school teacher, take students on a field trip, transportation time is included as instructional minutes. So, we spent from 5:30 to 7:30 getting to the Bowl, 8 to 10 listening to the concert, and from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. getting home. That's 7 hours - slightly longer than a California school day.

On the way to the Bowl, one man (also on his way to the Bowl) said (jokingly) to Gemma, "You probably don't like that boring classical music stuff." He was kidding, but I wanted to strangle him. Gemma, unaffected, responded, "I love classical music." She proceeded to tell him that she knew we were going to the 9th Symphony, by Beethoven, that it had 4 movements, and she wondered if the 4th movement would be in German or English. And then she skipped down the sidewalk pointing to sidewalk squares, saying they looked like various U.S. states.
The word "boring" doesn't have a place in my house.
For handicrafts, Gemma folded a giraffe (and we discovered that their "horns" are called ossicones).
Gemma chose The Bellelli Family as our latest Degas painting. It was fun looking at it closely, after having looked at other paintings by Degas, and realizing that the mirror over the mantle appears to be reflecting a window.

We went on a 4 mile bike ride. 
Gemma worked on cursive. She is an expert at lowercase i. 😉

We did not do a drawing lesson, a sol-fa lesson, a nature study drawing, or add to our timeline book. *Gasp.* How can I call myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler?!

In addition to Duolingo, Gemma watched two episodes of Telefrancais on YouTube. When I was in high school French class, Madame let us watch episodes of the show. My favorite character was the talking pineapple. ("Je suis un ananas.")

In Bible, we worked on Psalm 150, The Good Samaritan, and our passage from Genesis. Our Bible passage this week was long - four chapters - so we broke it up over a couple of days. Gen 42-43, and 44-45.

For Literature, we finished Lamb's Midsummer Night's Dream, read The Lion and the Mouse for our fable, and several Stevenson poems. Gemma decided to memorize Stevenson's least PC poem: Foreign Children.

Our current read aloud is Ereth's Birthday by Avi, a sequel to Poppy. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of a fisher, and I didn't know much about porcupines, except that they're herbivores. I didn't know they don't have quills on their stomachs, so predators can attack them there. I also didn't know that they hug trees to protect themselves.

In addition to other books, Gemma's read a couple of Boxcar Children mysteries from the library, independently.

In piano, she finally nailed the timing of "The Thing That Has No Name." We screamed and jumped up and down in celebration. It was very exciting. She also worked on learning tetrachords and major scales.

For geography, we read Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography chapter 4 (about the earth being round), and The World By the Fireside (A Fight With the Walrus). We also watched a video about walruses:

At Little Explorers, it was my turn to host. We made ice cream and learned about Arctic animals, Inuits, and igloos. Homemade ice cream counts as handicrafts, right?
For natural history, we read James Herriot's Oscar, Cat About Town (my FAVORITE Herriot story!), and Burgess Seashore Book (more about clams).

For history, we read two chapters from On the Shores of the Great Sea, including one about the founding of Carthage.

She did a chapter of Life of Fred: Kidneys.

We went to big sister's performance in Shrek: The Musical, where she played Princess Fiona.
Lord Farquad was hilarious.
A blast from the past: For Gemma's first Halloween, I sewed a Princess Fiona costume for her.
We also went to Theatricum Botannicum for a Hans Christian Andersen play. It was Gemma's birthday gift from our wonderful friend Anita.💗
Our current round of swim lessons is at 9:30 a.m. So early for the night owls we've been this summer. She's getting the hang of side breathing!
This "week," as usual, has taken longer than a week. We've done quite a bit, like hosting Little Explorers and running the errands needed to do that, spending a morning at the library, independent reading one hour each day, a day spent cleaning before Grandma and Poppa's visit (Gemma vacuumed and made the bed), a day at the beach with Daddy/Hollywood Bowl, seeing Shrek twice, going to the Hans Christian Andersen play, etc. All that, AND school. 😉